In order to be active, many drugs need to pass through one or more cell membranes. Cell membranes are about 10 nm thick and highly impermeable. A primary focus of my research is to use nanoparticles to increase cell permeability. Current research employs peptide-based materials that self-assemble into vesicular nanoparticles. These nano-vesicles have lipid-like properties including solute encapsulation, fusion and resizing. They are able to penetrate cells and deliver therapeutic DNA and mRNA. My laboratory is also investigating new methods for gene silencing in insect models, by adding dsRNA associated with peptide nanoparticles to their diet. Gene silencing by feeding dsRNA in insects has great potential as a tool for pest management because it can reduce the off-target effect and slow down resistance development to chemical insecticides.